This week Awesome Stories brings you stories to start your new year with a flame in your heart and a smile on your face.
University of the People is aiming to change the way we learn and educate people. They’ve created the first accredited, tuition-free university that offers both 2 and 4-year degree programs. Their focus is mainly on computer science, business, and healthcare to ensure that students attain viable skills for in-demand fields. They believe that education can transform people and the world, helping to create both peace and economic development. The university is supported by grants, passionate volunteers, open-source courses, and businesses who want to transform education. Students are only asked to pay a $100 processing fee for each course exam. And recently, they’ve offered 500 Syrian refugees totally free access to their university! Power to the people.
According to the latest research, solar energy now produces 14 times as much energy as is required to produce and install. This means that solar energy is actually more efficient than oil and gas. This increase in the efficiency of solar energy (and it’s getting better as solar panel and battery efficiencies increase) marks the beginning of the end for fossil fuels. And many of us would say good riddance. Fossil fuels have allowed for cheap and easy booms in manufacturing, industrialization, and economic growth. But the environmental costs have been huge, especially as the industry has turned toward offshore oil deposits, shale oil, and fracking. Solar energy is not a complete panacea either; it uses harsh chemicals and the mining of rare earth metals to produce the panels, but researchers are experimenting with less toxic processes and panels made from carbon, graphene, and other more common elements. Shine on sweet solar!
Many people have used art to heal and grow, but this is a unique twist on using art. It started with a Finish student, Maria, reaching out to an inmate on death row through a prison pen pal program. Maria Jain reached out to Moyo partly because of their common appreciation for yoga, art, and meditation. As the letters and relationship unfolded, Maria had the inspiration to create an art show with Moyo’s art and call it Buddhas on Death Row. Moyo’s journey as a person and artist is quite moving. He decided he wanted to learn to read and write, which grew into writing poetry and finally painting to better express himself. Then he found a book that opened his perspective to using art to heal and uplift others. He started painting Buddhas and using his time and art to reach out to others with the intent to think, live, and be a better person.
When this couple retired, Peter Grazier and Nance Cheifetz decided to buy a VW camper and focus on acts of kindness. They bought a charming 1990 VW Westfalia (just like the one I used to have!) called Bodhi which they decorated with kindness slogans. What’s amazing is they’ve sold all their possessions and focus solely on giving and having fun. Watch the video for a peek at a delightfully unique way to celebrate retirement. I have a similar idea to buy a van and travel the country, offering labor in exchange for a place to park and camp. Can you say travel itch? 🙂
What do you want to create with your life? Let’s make 2017 an intentional year full of love and kindness.